By Mounir Bishay
I’m very much aware that what I’m going to argue here is not the way many from Middle Eastern origins regard the United States.
The mere mention of “America” upsets some so much, pushing them over the edge. To many, hatred for America has become a faith-like passion, very hard to change. Hence, my purpose here is not to change these people’s minds, nor am I trying to defend America, as it certainly does not need my defense!
But for me this is a matter of principle and conviction, and it is my way of paying back some of the debt I personally owe to this great country. This is particularly true because I probably know more about America than many who criticize it claim they do. I have lived and worked in America for almost half-a-century, and I was fortunate enough to experience much of what life is really like here in America.
This is not to say that America has no faults, as only God is perfect, and the fictional utopian philosophical ideas do not exist in the real world. Man is sinful by nature and is hence prone to commit all sorts of evil deeds. Nevertheless, in America the rule of law puts the brakes on these natural bents and everyone is subject to its authority, including the president. In my years here in America I have seen President Nixon lose his job as he covers up for his men when they were spying on the other party. Senior officials were convicted and sentenced to prison. Where else in the world can anything like that happen?
Perhaps the worst sin that was once attributed to America as a nation is racism. But, again, the most important virtue of America is its ability to confront and put a stop to it. African American citizens were, over time, elevated from slaves to like-citizens, to full citizens, now have even a preferred citizenship status, and finally attained to the prestigious position of head of state.
Not too long ago, America was a British colony, but the settlers decided to fight for their independence, rather than remain a mere vassal of the British Empire. Eventually, the United States of America assumed a leadership role and grew into a country greater than Britain. America was even able to protect Britain and all Europe against the Nazi threat by Hitler, who had tried to dominate the continent and had at first succeeded to some extent. But the balance of power turned against him after America entered World War II, which resulted in the defeat and elimination of Nazism. America is currently the most powerful nation on earth and any country which may achieve this status would be tempted to use it to subdue other nations. On the contrary, America has been a stabilizing force rather than a threat to other nations.
When the world was again threatened by the emergence of the Soviet Union and the spread of communism, no country, besides the United States, had the power to combat that danger, defeat the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and stop the spread of communism. Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq, invaded Kuwait and threatened to control Middle East oil, and later ISIS came into being, terrorizing the region and promising to invade Europe. But thanks to American leadership, both were defeated.
Most important American achievements, however, have been those which contributed to improving the quality of human life. Thanks to American efforts, an environment that encourages innovation was created and America was a major player in developing countless inventions. It’s hard to imagine living without some of these inventions in the fields of food, and medicine, which make life easier for everyone. Some examples are: electricity, airplanes, TV, computers, the Internet, mobile phones, microwave ovens, laser beams, chemotherapy, and much more.
America pioneered the field of space travel, putting man on the moon for the first time. But America wouldn’t use this success or its technological advancement to threaten mankind but has used it for the good of humanity. Through this achievement, it was possible to develop satellite stations which are used to disseminate information to be passed on to people in their homes.
And, from America came the computer, which has revolutionized the lives of mankind, by helping to increase productivity and reduce corporate expenses, leading to lower prices. The development of personal computers (PC) and the launch of the Internet had changed the way people communicate with each other. With email, people can now reach anyone in the world and instantly know what is going on at the other end. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype have practically reduced the world to a small village.
Limitation of space for this article prompts me to jump ahead to other important points on this topic. The role of the American people in helping those in need around the world cannot be denied. Any time we hear of a devastating earthquake, a killer tsunami, deadly famines, war, or other natural or human-made disasters which turn people into refugees, we’re immediately aware that Americans are at the forefront of the relief work, with planeloads of food and medicine to help those victims, regardless of their race, color, or creed.
American efforts in defending human rights require coverage in another full-length article. Since its inception, America had identified this as a high calling of its worldwide presence. In this regard President Jimmy Carter said, “America didn’t invent human rights, human rights invented America.” This does not mean that America has become the policeman of the world, but with its influence, power and other means, America is able to promote democracy and stop repression and tyranny against vulnerable peoples in the world.
It is strange to hear words of criticism attributed to America (which at times amount to name calling) from people who would give anything for a chance to immigrate to the United States of America, who, even while they are in their homelands, may be living on American aid!
ABOUT MOUNIR BISHAY
Mounir Bishay, an Egyptian by birth, is a human rights activist and writer on Coptic (Christians of Egypt) issues. He is the head of the Los Angeles based Christian Copts of California. Mr. Bishay is also a contributorto SFPPR News & Analysis.